The Prayer Seeker
Michael snorted, parts of his mind closing down to the truth of it. “Don’t be stupid.
We’re Christians. There is no us.”
Alan pushed one hand through his hair. His eyes were glittering in the light. “That’s
what you think, Michael, it’s not what I think. And even if it’s not true, yet, I was hoping
there would be an us one day soon.”
“There isn’t going to be that, ever. I want to do God’s will, that’s more important to
me than anything.”
“So I see.”
A few strands of silence fell between them, even in spite of the noise. Michael
thought that the pub, the whole of the street and London itself simply didn’t exist, and all
that did exist was the sharp, unforgiving clarity of this confrontation with Alan. It seemed
inevitable, but the precise meaning of it was too much, and too broad for him to
understand. He only knew he couldn’t go back from what he had said, no matter how
brutal, for them both.
Finally, Alan spoke. “Is this it then?”
So few words and such vast content. Michael nodded. That gesture might have been
the most truthful response he’d given all evening.
Without another word, Alan got up. Michael bit his lip, wanting to say something
else but knowing there was nothing more to say. Whatever it had been, and however
fragile, it was over.
But not quite. Because just as he left the table and the pub, Alan turned and said,
“You know what the odd thing is? The odd thing is that I wanted us to stop being friends
too, but for a very different reason. I wanted us to be lovers. I can’t change your mind,
Michael, that much is obvious. But maybe one day you should think about the sort of
God you want to follow, and how true that picture you have of Him really is. I hope you
Then he was gone, his figure vanishing through a blur of smoke and people. Alan
never came back to church, and Michael never saw him again.
That day, in Chris’s living room when Michael finally fell silent, he knew he’d
reached the heart and the guts of his search, or rather the beginnings of it, for how could
he possess the space and time he needed for prayer when his past was colouring his
present in such a way? He could sense it flooding through his soul: the guilt, the
remembrance of cowardice, and pain caused to another. He had had no idea how to
respond to the situation he’d been in, and had taken the quickest and easiest way out, but
the legacy that decision had left him with had been a long and difficult one.
He could see that now.
When he looked up, he could see the box of tissues had been moved nearer him;
Chris must have got up and done this without his noticing. How locked into his memories
he must have been not to realise it. Michael nodded his thanks and wiped his face with
one of the tissues.
“I’ve never told anyone that before,” Michael said at last. “Not even my wife, and
never anyone in the church. All I said to the study leader at the time was the situation was